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PNNL chemist earns NIH New Innovator Award
Date:9/23/2009

RICHLAND, Wash. -- An analytical chemist at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has been recognized with a National Institutes of Health Director's New Innovator Award. The award will support Wei-Jun Qian's drive to make new research and clinical diagnostic tools that are dramatically more sensitive, reliable and faster than current technologies.

The award, which comes with a $1.5 million, five-year grant, recognizes researchers early in their careers. Qian has been studying proteomics -- or the proteins that make organisms work -- at PNNL only since 2002 but has already published more than 60 scientific papers. NIH selected projects that show creativity and are considered high-risk ventures but with the potential to make a significant impact.

"This is great news for Wei-Jun and highlights the significant instrument development capabilities at PNNL," said Doug Ray, director of Fundamental & Computational Sciences at PNNL. "Not many DOE researchers earn such a prestigious NIH award. For his first grant, this is a major achievement."

Qian earned this honor for his proposal to increase the ability of research tools to detect diagnostic molecules in blood or tissue enough so they can replace conventional tools. When patients enter clinics now, they donate up to an ounce or two of blood so that multiple tests can be done. Each test -- for cholesterol, liver health, or cancer markers -- is generally performed seperately. A slate of 20 tests is far more labor and time intensive than just one. Qian would like to develop a single test for 20 diseases.

Research laboratories such as those found in EMSL, DOE's molecular sciences laboratory on the PNNL campus, have instruments called mass spectrometers that can identify hundreds of proteins and other molecules floating in a drop of that ounce of blood. Although much faster, the instruments aren't sensitive and accurate enough to compare with the clinical la
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Contact: Mary Beckman
mary.beckman@pnl.gov
509-375-3688
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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